J. Cole Reliant Arena, October 18
Perhaps it's the diversity of J. Cole's parental influences -- his mom raised him on folk and classic rock, while his dad added Tupac and Outkast -- that makes his style so diverse and insightful. Or perhaps it's the higher learning that Cole acquired while on full scholarship to St John's University that adds a bit more meaning.
But whatever it is that makes the North Carolina-raised rapper and producer so different, it works. Cole's unique storyteller vibe has taken him from a post-college job as a bill collector to a member of Roc Nation's upper echelon, where he transcends current hip-hop trends with thoughtful, polished rhymes over a hearty base of raw beats and soulful sounds. ANGELICA LEICHT
Avenged Sevenfold, Deftones Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 18
Avenged Sevenfold have split the difference between classic metal and post-hardcore -- or "emo," if you must -- to emerge as one of the biggest rock bands around; they released another hit album, Hail to the King, back in August. The SoCal quintet mixes technical wizardry, portentous themes and just a little camp (their bassist calls himself Johnny Christ; the singer M. Shadows) to create jean-jacket anthems like Iron Maiden did a generation or two before them.
For their fall tour, A7F have convinced a key influence to hit the road with them: brooding alt-metal brainiacs the Deftones. CHRIS GRAY
Jonny Lang House of Blues, October 18
Jonny Lang burst on the music scene while still in his mid-teens, when the then-mop-haired blues guitarist and singer's single "Lie to Me" won him rave reviews and legions of fans. Now 32, the Fargo, North Dakota, native has spent literally half of his life onstage. His second solo album, Wander this World, earned him his first Grammy nomination, an award he won with gospel-tinged 2006 solo outing Turn Around.
Last month Lang returned with Fight for My Soul, which immediately landed on three separate Billboard charts: The Billboard 200 (reaching No. 50), Blues Albums (No. 2), and Christian Albums, where it went to No. 1. OLIVIA FLORES ALVAREZ
The Waco Brothers, Churchwood Continental Club, October 19
A product of the same late-'70s Leeds University scene as post-punk neo-Marxists Gang of Four, the prolific Jon Langford started the Waco Brothers in the mid-'90s to explore his affinity for American roots music beyond his more eclectic (and still active) main band the Mekons.
Across eight albums for Chicago's Bloodshot Records, more or less as the "insurgent country" label's flagship band, Langford and his partner in crime "Deano" Schlabowske punctuate their explosive live sets with lacerating wit and acute social commentary. Most recently on wax, the Wacos honored their hometown with mod Stonesy R&B and Nick Lowe-style power-pop on 2012's The Great Chicago Fire. Opening is the gonzo blues of Austin's Captain Beefheart-inspired Churchwood. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Michael Buble Toyota Center, October 20
An affable crooner with enough charm to sell millions of pop/jazz/swing albums and fill arenas long after that music's heyday on the charts, Michael Buble is convincing proof that some things really do never go out of style. But the Canadian-born singer has always mixed in more contemporary artists to go with all the Sinatra and Nina Simone, like Randy Newman and the Bee Gees on this year's To Be Loved.
Mostly he's developed a debonair style of his own, and done quite well for himself. In fact Buble has made a mint on his pair of holiday albums alone, most recently 2011's Christmas, and hits Toyota Center just as the holidays are fast approaching. CHRIS GRAY
John Fogerty Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 20
A bona fide rock and roll star who happens to be a down-to-earth, humble guy, John Fogerty didn't ask for a tribute album this year; there's been plenty already. But look who turned up on this year's Wrote a Song For Everyone (Vanguard), a duets collection offering a tiny hint of the Bay Area native's lasting influence: Foo Fighters ("Fortunate Son"), Zac Brown Band ("Bad Moon Rising"), Jennifer Hudson ("Proud Mary," with the Rebirth Brass Band and Allen Toussaint in tow) and even Fogerty's two sons Shane and Tyler ("Lodi").
But in a twist, for his fall tour Fogerty is forsaking the standard greatest-hits set most classic rockers of his lofty station would do and instead playing one of two ageless Creedence Clearwater Revival albums, Born on the Bayou or Cosmo's Factory, front to back. No doubt he'll get to "Centerfield" in the encore, though. CHRIS GRAY
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